Uncategorized, Vitamins and Supplements

Black Cohosh : Benefits and Uses

black-cohosh-retina

Black Cohosh : Benefits and Uses

 

Fever, pneumonia, menstrual issues and even musculoskeletal pain – these are just some health problems that Native Americans believe the black cohosh plant may be good for.1 After discovering it over two centuries ago,2 these civilizations are still relying on this perennial plant to address certain illnesses. But how exactly does black cohosh work, and can it really offer benefits for your health?

 

What Is Black Cohosh?

A member of the buttercup plant family, black cohosh (Actaea racemose – it was previously known as Cimicifuga racemosa3) is a flowering perennial plant that grows in certain parts of the U.S. and Canada.4 From June to September, the plant produces white flowers, but take a look at its roots, and you’ll see that they’re black. This is where the plant gets its name. The rootstock and roots are also knotty and rough, which is why the plant is called “cohosh” – this is actually a Native American word for “rough.”5

 

The black cohosh plant thrives best in moist and rich soil, and can be seen growing on hillsides and in open woods. It can grow up to 8 feet tall, with pinnate leaves and irregular tooth leaflets.6 The root is believed to be the most beneficial part of the plant. Black cohosh root has a long history of being used medicinally.7 Its rhizomes, which also grows underground, may have healing uses, too.8

 

Black cohosh is known by other names as well, such as black snakeroot, baneberry, bugwort, rattlesnake root, squaw root and Sheng Ma, to name a few.9 However, remember that black cohosh and blue cohosh should not be confused with each other, as they’re very different plants.10 Blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides) has been historically used to induce labor or miscarriage, but eventually it was found to be dangerous for the fetus.11

 

Black Cohosh Uses for Women’s Health

Aside from Native Americans, Europeans have also been using black cohosh for over four decades now. Specifically in Germany, it’s actually approved for alleviating pain associated with premenstrual syndrome, dysmenorrhea and menopause.12 In fact, black cohosh achieved its popularity because of claims stating that it can help control menopause symptoms, including:13,14

 

Hot flashes

Mood changes

Sleep issues and night sweats

Headaches

Heart palpitations

Vaginal dryness

Painful intercourse

Vertigo

Decreased sex drive

Ringing in the ears

Bone density loss (among postmenopausal women)

Reduced mental performance (among postmenopausal women)

This is mainly due to the estrogen-like response in black cohosh, which helps increase low levels of estrogen that are prevalent in most menopausal women. It’s even said that black cohosh may work as a natural hormone replacement.15

 

Do the Studies Support Black Cohosh’s Purported Claims?

Black cohosh’s potential for easing menopause symptoms has been known since the 1950s, and individual studies are said to support these claims,16 such as:

 

  • A review published in 2010 found that menopausal women had a 26 percent reduction in hot flashes and night sweats when using black cohosh supplements.17

 

  • Published in the journal Gynecological Endocrinology in 2013, a review found that women who took black cohosh had, on average, more reduced menopausal symptoms compared to women who were given a placebo.18

 

  • A 2017 study published in the Neuroscience journal found that black cohosh potentially helped regulate the body temperature of female rats that had no ovaries.19

 

However, please note that currently there’s still no final and conclusive scientific evidence of black cohosh’s effectiveness for this condition. In addition, most studies that show the positive benefits did not exceed six months to one year of use, which is why long-term use of this supplement is never recommended.20 Therefore, as much as possible, exercise extreme caution before supplementing with black cohosh.

 

Other Potential Health Benefits Linked to Black Cohosh

In addition to its potential for alleviating menopause symptoms, black cohosh is also believed to help ease other conditions. In fact, Native Americans used it to treat fever, musculoskeletal pain, pneumonia, cough, and even aid in sluggish labor.21 Other possible benefits linked to black cohosh include:22

 

  • Preventing digestive issues: Black cohosh may help improve nutrient uptake, assist in removing waste products, and even reduce constipation and risk of gastric ulcers.

 

  • Easing sleep problems: It’s said to be a natural sedative that can help ease stress, anxiety and insomnia.

 

  • Alleviating premenstrual symptoms: This herb is said to help muscles to relax, easing tension that may lead to painful cramps. It may be useful for women who have irregular cycles as well.23

 

Again, there’s no conclusive evidence confirming these potential effects of black cohosh, so make sure to consult a physician prior to using this herbal supplement.

 

Black Cohosh Dosage: What’s the Typical Amount for Supplementation?

Black cohosh supplements are available in different forms, such as capsules or liquid extracts. The roots are also dried and transformed into tea. In some cases, the herb is used as an ingredient in herbal mixtures. You can buy it in drug or health stores, or through online sellers.24

 

There’s no set dose for this supplement, although in studies, 20 to 40 milligram tablets, taken twice a day, are typically used to ease menopausal symptoms. Do not take over 900 milligrams of black cohosh a day, and do not take it for long periods of time.25 This supplement is ill-advised for children and teenagers. There are also groups of people who should not take black cohosh at any costs, such as:

 

  • People who are allergic to aspirin

 

  • People who have liver disease, seizure disorders or have a high risk of blood clots and stroke

 

  • Pregnant and breastfeeding women

 

  • Women with uterine or breast cancer

 

  • Women suffering from endometriosis

 

Furthermore, while black cohosh may have positive effects for hot flashes during menopause, please note that women who experience hot flashes as a side effect of cancer therapy (such as chemotherapy or radiation) and cancer medications like tamoxifen (Nolvadex), should not take this herbal supplement.

 

Not only can this herb interfere with cancer drugs, but there are also concerns stating that its plant-based estrogens (phytoestrogens) may actually stimulate breast tumor growths.26

 

Black Cohosh May Have Unpleasant Side Effects as Well

The side effects linked to black cohosh usually occur when high doses of this supplement are ingested. Headaches and upset stomach are two common examples. In some people, more severe complications like liver injury have also occurred.

 

Thus, if you’re using any medication that affects the liver, consult your healthcare provider prior to using black cohosh. People who use hormone replacement therapy, sedatives, birth control pills and blood pressure medicine should also refrain from using this supplement without their physician’s approval.27

 

Remember: Use Black Cohosh as a Last Resort

While black cohosh may offer potential for easing menopausal symptoms and other hormone-related conditions, I do not recommend it as your first go-to option. Instead, try addressing your diet and see if this may have positive effects on your symptoms. Other strategies include optimizing your vitamin D levels and getting sufficient levels of high-quality omega-3 fats.

 

Frequently Asked Questions About Black Cohosh

Q: How long does it take for black cohosh to work?

 

A: According to scientific evidence, black cohosh may help relieve hot flashes and other menopause symptoms after about a month of treatment.28 However, keep in mind that there are no studies confirming its effects after long-term use, so refrain from taking it for long periods of time.

 

Q: Is black cohosh safe?

 

A: While black cohosh may be generally safe for healthy people, there are certain individuals who are advised not take this supplement. It can also come with unpleasant side effects like stomach upset and headaches. If you experience these, stop taking it immediately.

 

Health and Wellness Associates

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Dr J Mercola

Dr A Sullivan

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Foods, Uncategorized

Cauliflower !

Ivana Jurcic Photography - www.ivanajurcic.com

Cauliflower

 

Cauliflower, which like broccoli is a member of the cruciferous family, contains an impressive array of nutrients, including vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and other phytochemicals. It’s a good source of vitamin K, protein, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, magnesium, phosphorus, fiber, vitamin B6, folate, pantothenic acid, potassium and manganese.

 

Cauliflower is also packed with natural antioxidants such as vitamin C, beta-carotene, kaempferol, quercetin, rutin, cinnamic acid and others. Antioxidants are nature’s way of providing your cells with adequate defense against attack by excessive amounts of reactive oxygen species. As long as you have these important micronutrients, your body will be better equipped to resist damage caused by everyday exposures to pollutants, chronic stress and more.

 

Without an adequate supply of antioxidants to help squelch excess free radicals you raise your risk of oxidative stress, which leads to accelerated tissue and organ damage. Adding to cauliflower’s appeal is its versatility. You can eat it raw, add it to salads or use it in your cooking. Cauliflower can even be seasoned and mashed as an alternative to potatoes.

 

Top Health Benefits of Cauliflower

Because of its beneficial effects on numerous aspects of health, cauliflower can easily be described as a superfood. Some of its most valuable health benefits include:

Fighting cancer1,2,3

 

Cauliflower contains the cancer-fighting compounds sulforaphane and isothiocyanates, the former of which has been shown to kill cancer stem cell responsible for metastasis or spread of cancer.

Boosting heart health4

 

Sulforaphane in cauliflower also helps improve blood pressure and kidney function. Scientists believe sulforaphane’s benefits are related to improved DNA methylation, which is crucial for normal cellular function and proper gene expression, especially in the easily damaged inner lining of the arteries (endothelium).

Lowering inflammation5

 

Chronic inflammation is a hallmark of most disease. Cauliflower contains anti-inflammatory nutrients to help keep inflammation in check, including indole-3-carbinol, an anti-inflammatory compound that may operate at the genetic level to help prevent the inflammatory responses at its foundational level.

Boosting brain health6

 

Cauliflower is a good source of choline, a B vitamin known for its role in brain development. It also helps improve cognitive function, learning and memory. It may even diminish age-related memory decline and your brain’s vulnerability to toxins during childhood, as well as conferring protection later in life.

Supporting detoxification7

 

Cauliflower helps your body’s ability to detoxify in several ways. It contains antioxidants that support Phase 1 detoxification along with sulfur-containing nutrients important for Phase 2 detox activities. The glucosinolates in cauliflower also activate detoxification enzymes.

Aiding digestion

 

Cauliflower is an important source of dietary fiber for digestive health. But that’s not all. According to the World’s Healthiest Foods:8

 

“Researchers have determined that the sulforaphane made from a glucosinolate in cauliflower (glucoraphanin) can help protect the lining of your stomach. Sulforaphane provides you with this health benefit by preventing bacterial overgrowth of Helicobacter pylori in your stomach or too much clinging by this bacterium to your stomach wall.”

This being said;   it is not healthy to eat raw cauliflower.  You must cook it, but only slightly.  Keeping the center raw is the best way.   When the cauliflower turns too soft, a lot of the nutrients are gone.  If it happens, eat it anyway, do not throw it out.

 

Cauliflower — A Cold Season Crop

Cauliflower tends to require a little more care and attention than some other vegetables, but with some preplanning, it’s an excellent cool weather crop. Attempts to grow cauliflower in temperatures above 80 degrees F will usually fail. You can start your seeds in late summer, however, if you plant them indoors in a cool spot. As long as your local temperature does not fall below 20 degrees F, you can grow cauliflower over winter and harvest in the spring.

 

Cauliflower is also finicky when it comes to soil quality. It requires high-nutrient soil and must be well watered throughout the growing season. There are a number of different varieties to choose from, depending on your local climate and desired maturity rate, including the following:9

 

Early-season varieties such as Snow Crown, Denali and Panther, which mature in about 70 to 80 days. The heads of these varieties tend to be smaller, less dense and less sweet, however

Mid-season varieties, which need more than 80 days to mature, include Candid Charm, Skywalker, Graffiti (a purple-colored variety) and Orange Burst (an orange-colored variety that contains higher amounts of vitamin A)

Start From Seed

To identify the recommended planting dates for climactic zone, check out Mother Earth News’ vegetable garden planner.10 As a general rule, you’ll want to start your seeds four to six weeks before the last frost date. Cauliflower will grow best if started in seed trays with seed compost rather than regular multipurpose compost.

 

Sow one or two seeds per cell at a depth of about one-half inch. If both seeds germinate, select the most robust seedling and snip off the weaker one with a pair of shears. Avoid pulling it out as this may damage the roots of the remaining plant.

 

Gently wet the seed tray and place it in a greenhouse, cold frame or windowsill until the seeds germinate, which takes about four weeks. Keep the seeds moist but avoid overwatering, as when the plant is forced to search for water, it forces a more robust root system. Excessive heat in combination with insufficient light will result in tall “leggy” seedlings, so make sure there’s plenty of light without cooking the plants. Quick Crop offers the following suggestion:11

 

“If you are starting them off on a windowsill make sure they get as much daylight as possible. You can make a makeshift light box by placing a sheet of reflective tinfoil on the room side of the seedling tray. This will reflect daylight onto the darker side of the plant. If the plants are on a heat bench or in a propagator and they are looking spindly, turn the heat down and try to give them as much light as possible.”

 

Planting Guidelines

Before transplanting the seedlings into your garden, harden them off for seven to 10 days by placing them outdoors, starting with a couple of hours and slowly increasing the time each day. Once they’re ready to be transplanted, keep the following guidelines in mind:

 

Transplant on an overcast day

 

Ideally, transplant your cauliflower on an overcast day or in the evening to prevent wilting.

Plant and row spacing

 

Space each plant about 20 to 25 inches apart, with the same amount of distance between rows. Placing them too close together will result in smaller heads, so avoid the temptation to crowd them together.

Soil considerations

 

Cauliflower requires soil rich in nitrogen and potassium with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Prepare your bed by mixing in a generous amount of organic compost. Soil should also be well compacted, so it’s best to prepare your planting bed a few weeks or months in advance. Alternatively, be sure to tamp the soil down firmly with your boot around the plant’s roots.

Watering

 

An hour before transplanting, water the plant trays. Water again once they’re in the ground but avoid soaking. Mulch will slow down evaporation and protect against heat. Make sure the plants stay moist throughout the growing season. Bitter cauliflower is a sign of insufficient watering. Creating a small dam around the plant will help prevent water runoff.

Pest prevention

Take Dawn dishwashing liquid and dilute it down, and put it in a spray bottle and spray cauliflower occasionally.

Use a featherweight row cover to protect the plants from pests.

Fertilizer recommendations

 

Every two weeks, apply a natural high-nitrogen fertilizer such as liquid seaweed feed (best), fish emulsion, compost tea or a combination of seaweed and chicken manure pellets. If you notice browning of the heads or if the plant develops distorted leaf tips, the plant is likely lacking in boron.

 

Apply a foliar feed like liquid seaweed extract once every two weeks until the symptoms clear up. Planting a fall cover crop of vetch or clover will help enrich the soil with boron for the next season.

Blanching

 

If you’re growing a regular white variety, once the flower heads reach a size of about 2 inches, be sure to provide some shade if you want to avoid yellowing of the heads. Rodale’s Organic Life provides the following suggestion:12

 

“Prepare plants for blanching on a sunny afternoon when the plants are totally dry, because damp heads are more susceptible to rot. Just bend some of the plants’ own leaves over the head and tuck them in on the opposite side, or secure the leaves at the top with soft twine, rubber bands, or plastic tape. Use enough leaves to keep out light and moisture, but allow room for air circulation and for the heads to grow.”

Pest Control

Common pests that like to attack cauliflower include:

 

  • Cabbage root fly: Eggs are laid at the base of the seedling and the subsequent maggots burrow down and eat the roots. Symptoms include wilt, interrupted growth and a bluish tint to the leaves. The best way to avoid them is to use a micromesh row cover to prevent the flies from laying eggs on the plant.

 

Make sure the netting is properly sealed all-around the plant. Alternatively, use cabbage collars, which cover the soil around the base of the plant. Another alternative is to introduce more nematodes into your garden, as they feast on the cabbage root fly’s larvae.

 

  • Cabbage white caterpillars: These caterpillars will kill your cauliflower plant within days, so look for yellow eggs underneath the leaves, and if you find them, simply brush them off. A row cover will prevent the butterfly from laying its eggs as well.

 

  • Cabbage whitefly: While this aphid is less destructive than other pests, they can cause your plant to mold. Check the underside of the leaves and pick off any white insects. Also remove any leaves that turn yellow as they could harbor aphid eggs. The sticky substance left by the whitefly can be safely washed off with a strong blast of water.

 

  • Clubroot: Clubroot cysts can survive in soil for up to nine years, so if your garden ever gets infested, know your efforts to grow cauliflower or any other cabbage family member may be thwarted for some time. Typically, clubroot will be introduced via infected transplants or by tracking in infected soil from another area.

 

Symptoms include poor growth and leaves that wilt and turn reddish-purple. The roots will have foul-smelling swollen deformed growths attached to them. Advanced infestation will cause the roots to dissolve into a slimy pulp.

 

To minimize spread, burn the affected roots; do not use them in compost. If you know you have an infestation, add lime to the soil the year before you’re planning to plant any cabbage family variety as clubroot thrives in acidic soil conditions. Using a raised bed can minimize the risk as well by preventing over-wetting.

 

Harvesting and Storage

Your cauliflower is ready for harvest once the heads reach a size of 6 to 12 inches in diameter. Be sure to harvest while the heads are tight and unopened. Using a sharp knife, cut the stem just below the head, leaving a few leaves as protection for the curds. Should your crop get hit by a heavy frost, harvest the frozen heads and cook them immediately. They’ll be inedible if you allow the heads to thaw and refreeze.

 

Cauliflower is best used right away, but can stay fresh for a few weeks if refrigerated. Another alternative, if you need to store the cauliflower for a longer period of time, is to uproot the whole plant and hang it upside down in a cool, dry place. This way, the cauliflower will stay fresh for up to one month without refrigeration.

 

Cauliflower can be substituted for most starches.

 

If you are having problems with digestion, irritable bowel syndrome, celiac disease and such, call us for help.  You need to cure it not just treat it!   These and many digestive issues will be a leading cause to having cancer in the future

 

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived

Dr A Sullivan

312-972-WELL

 

HealthWellnessAssociates@gmail.com

https://www.facebook.com/HealthAndWellnessAssociates/

 

 

Foods, Uncategorized

Loaded Cauliflower Casserole

loaded

Loaded Cauliflower Casserole

 

This is a start to a heart healthier way of eating!

 

Ingredients

 

6 slices bacon, cut 1/2-inch thick

2 medium heads cauliflower, cut into bite-size florets (3 to 4 pounds total)

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

6 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature

2 cups shredded Cheddar

4 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced

2/3 cup sour cream

 

Directions

 

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

 

Cook the bacon in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until brown and crispy, 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate. Reserve 2 tablespoons of the bacon drippings.

 

Put the cauliflower florets in a 3-quart casserole dish. Toss with the reserved 2 tablespoons bacon drippings, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Roast until the florets are soft and begin to brown, about 30 minutes.

 

Meanwhile, mix together the cream cheese and 1 cup of the Cheddar in a medium bowl until well combined. Dollop over the cauliflower, then sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup Cheddar and bake until the cauliflower is tender when poked with a knife and the Cheddar is melted and bubbly, 5 to 7 minutes more.

 

Dollop the sour cream evenly over the casserole and sprinkle with the scallions and reserved bacon pieces.

 

Health and Wellness Associates

Archived

Dr A Sullivan

312-972-WELL

 

HealthWellnessAssociates@gmail.com

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